hello

Michael Surtees is a Product Design Director and practitioner of User Experience Design (UXD) based in NYC. He is currently the Head of Design at Dataminr, a company that is a certified Twitter partner using their firehose for clients in the areas of News, Finance and the Public Sector.

Since 2005 Michael has published his thoughts on design at Design Notes. Topics of interest range from people's daily experiences with technology to typography to photography among many others.

The 140 character version of what he's finding interesting can be found on Twitter at @MichaelSurtees. Photos are shared on VSCO, Flickr and Instagram.

When not designing, writing, or shooting photos, he loves cycling in and around the city. He can be reached at michael at michaelsurtees dot com.

Interviews, Press And Publishing

The Big Web Show: Michael Surtees


The Big Web Show features special guests and topics like web publishing, art direction, content strategy, typography, web technology, and more. It’s everything web that matters. Jeffrey Zeldman interviews Michael Surtees, founding partner and creative director at Gesture Theory, co-creator of Deckpub (“the future of publishing on iPad”), and author of Design notes. The two designers discuss managing a small, nimble design practice; getting clients; balancing client services work with product development and blogging; Michael’s journey from employee to entrepreneur; avoiding static comps and wireframes; and much more.


Mashable: RSS Can't Fill Google Reader Void by Michael Surtees


Now that Google Reader is dead, many people will just move to another RSS reader. But is that the only way to find the latest content out there?

AOL: The Process: Michael Surtees Reconsiders the Weather (App)


We’re thrilled to announce a new video series that examines the modern creative process employed by designers, writers, typographers, artists and more. We wanted to explore how people work today, shuffling between sketching by hand and testing on tablets -- seamlessly moving between the digital and analog. In each episode, we’ll give each subject a unique challenge, and explore how they approach the problem.


New York Magazine: Street Walker, A design expert discerns the good, the bad, and the odd in curbside culture.


What is happening out there on the streets? Or, rather, on the walls and subways and sidewalks where street artists and advertisers show off their new ideas. In this new, occasional department, we ask design professionals to tell us what they see when they traverse the city. What tricks are advertisers using? Is pink the new orange? Michael Surtees, an art director at Renegade, a Chelsea-based design agency, and founder of the blog DesignNotes, took us on a tour of Soho (with a few other downtown stops), where bold colors, eighties video games, and surly little childhood characters are dominating street art and creeping into advertising. 


Typographica: Typeface review of Clear Sans by Michael Surtees


Having spent time recently focusing on dispersed levels of data, I was drawn to Clear Sans for its practical nature. The different weights between light, thin, regular, medium, bold, and even italic offer great options for both readability and contrast, making all sorts of type and numbers easy for users to digest. More and more I noticed that I didn’t have to squint the way I usually do with fonts that I tend to see used a lot for dashboards, analytics, and other user interfaces. One trick seems to be to use type in “playful” ways, set large; Clear Sans feels grown up and swings to the other side of the spectrum. 


Typographica: Typeface review of Aften Screen by Michael Surtees


Aften Screen cuts through the majority of bland screen-only fonts by being confident enough in what it chooses to display as much as in what it doesn’t show. 


Typographica: Typeface review of Mokka
 by Michael Surtees


I spend most of my day reading on screen with the same browser friendly typefaces that we’ve all grown to love and hate. I don’t spend much time laying out type on paper anymore, but if I were to publish a book I’d want to use Mokka. 


Coudal.com: A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain Field-Tested 
by Michael Surtees


While growing up on the prairies of Canada, I was the pickiest of eaters. Still to this day, the idea of condiments causes me great discomfort. Back then, if the food wasn’t beef or chicken, it was almost disqualified from my personal menu. By the time I had made it to University, I was slowly expanding my eating pallette, but there were still plenty of times when I would fall back on the classic staples of the food I knew.

AIGA Webinar: Devices Everywhere


Mobile phones and tablet devices are fast becoming our primary way of accessing information. Understanding the trends around these devices—who’s buying them and what are they being used for—is important for ensuring you design the right experience for your client. Moderator Callie Neylan will lead a discussion with Ethan Eismann, creative director and design manager at Adobe Systems, and Michael Surtees, principal and creative director of Gesture Theory, about device trends and the different ways to get content onto a variety of devices. Michael will showcase some recent projects he’s done for clients and explore how to approach design issues and content strategy for mobile devices.


Creative Mornings NYC: Agile Design Presentation

Core 77: Dogs on Design: Surtees’ Oversized Lap Dog



In this fifth post in our series, Dogs on Design, Raleigh Pop blogger Sarah F. Cox sat down with designer Michael Surtees, an interaction designer at Behavior. They talked about how humans behave on the web and how dogs behave in the park.

Video Notes from the Field, School of Visual Arts MFA in Interaction Design


As part of Career Camp, a series of talks at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, New York, that commenced this week, Liz Danzico discussed how to ask good questions in the face of career changes—whether those changes are in the pursuit of learning within your own company or a more significant career change. She advised the audience to ask themselves, “Who do you seek out when you think about change?” and “Who inspires you?” when considering where or how to move forward. To help frame the evening, she sought out the advice of digital designers and designer conspirers far and wide, to ask them to respond to the following: So you’re thinking about becoming a designer? If I could tell you only one thing about going into the field, my advice would be ___________ .

PSFK: Forget the Death of Newspapers, Magazines are Becoming a 
Form of Radio


Michael Surtees shares some interesting thoughts about the bizarre situation of media shape-shifting that is happening these days. He explains how after he stopped subscribing to the bulky print version of the New York Times, he discovered via micro-blogging site Twitter that the Economist magazine has a word-for-word audio recording of it’s issues available for download. After all this jumping around in different media worlds, Surtees discovers the usefulness of the audio version of the magazine, and sees a future in this kind of media-hybrid.